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Editorial: Pick one: Fear of violence or the right of liberty, property
Guest EditorialJuly 10, 2013 | 1,655 views | 1 comment
By Tim McGowan
Re: “Little cities v. federal law” July 3
In his letter to the editor, Mr. Szalwinski uses language that infers or directly asserts four points. The simple answer to his questions and assertion is found in what Dr. Brumlow wrote in his letter on July 3: How we make decisions is a moral question.
Mr. Szalwinski said if all three branches of the U.S. federal system approve a law limiting all firearms to a capacity of 10 rounds, that federal law overrules city or state law.
After a lengthy search of articles and court rulings, I present for readers this excerpt from an article by Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers, Dec. 9, 2012. For the most part, Mr. Doyle characterizes the current status of Second Amendment questions.
“Some state and local gun-control measures already have died over the past four and a half years, done in by the high court’s 2008 ruling that recognized expansive constitutional protections for firearm ownership. Similar Second Amendment restraints will limit the ambitions of the Obama gun task force and its Capitol Hill counterparts.
“The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside,” Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted in a ruling last week [Dec. 2012].
“Some additional gun restrictions, however, certainly will survive legal challenge. The Supreme Court has said that “laws imposing conditions and qualifications” on firearms sales may be permitted. This might allow, for instance, more background-check requirements. The court further indicated in 2008 that ‘an important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms’ extends to ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’
“That might include military firearms such as the M16 assault rifle, which the Supreme Court specifically cited. Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six women ... at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, a civilian version of the M16.
“The Supreme Court’s 2008 decision, however, has confining power. Posner’s ruling ... underscored that. His opinion struck down an Illinois law that prohibited most individuals from carrying firearms in public.
“‘The prohibition of semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines does not effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend themselves,’ said Judge Douglas Ginsburg, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.”
Mr. Szalwinski also stated that the latest polls show that about 90 percent of Americans want stronger background checks.
This was a three-state poll of Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in January 2013, just a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Support for background checks has dipped nationally but remains strong, according to a poll by the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling, set for release Tuesday. The finding, shared in advance with TPM, was that 73 percent of registered American voters support “requiring background checks for all gun sales, including gun shows and the internet,” while 21 percent oppose it.
According to Mr. Szalwinski, the U.S. Founders did not intend for everyone to have the right to large assault-type weapons with magazine capacity of 100 rounds.
Amendment II of the U.S. Constitution is unique among constitutions and governmental compacts in that it clearly places the means to threaten tyranny in the hands of the people and is stated without restriction. It is also the hand-in-glove guardian of the First Amendment.
The very simple and direct language of the Second Amendment is the relevant point of discussion “... the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I pose there is only one way to read this clause in English: Anyone of legal stature can own and use any type of arm they can buy or build. This broad, but distinctly definitive statement is many times argued to only apply to self-defense or hunting. Self-defense and hunting are not discussed in the Second Amendment or in the Federalist or Anti-Federalist Papers. The arms held by the common people in 1776 were on par or better than what the common soldier was issued. Capability of arms held by the people was based on what the individual could afford.
We don’t have to attempt to read the intent of the Founders; they wrote it down. Our essential task is: To whom much is given, much is expected. The common man and the government are expected to not conduct undue violent acts on our fellow man. Undue violence must be punished, the innocent must maintain their inalienable right to keep and bear arms.
Restricting access to arms is not specified nor implied within the U.S. Constitution; that idea came later and finds its origin in the Dred Scott decision. Over time, the adversaries of arms ownership by the people artfully crafted law to include “common use” test of access to arms of any type. This idea of “common use” is a legal term of art, which is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. From the assertion that arms available for the people are separate and distinct from those available to the government, we then move the control of all coercive force to the government. Exclusive access to arms held by a government is a key indicator of a totalitarian state. Registration of arms and users of arms is the key step to confiscation.
Bad law and philosophy has undermined the origin of the ideas which formed this country. These erosions of the original idea of America are making our future historically recognizable and very negative.
Bravo to Falls City, Poth, the vast number of U.S. sheriffs, the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police, the Australian, Israeli, Swiss people, Oathkeepers, and other liberty-minded people who stand for the inalienable right for persons of legal stature to own and use arms. Go Falls City and Poth! Take on the continuing assault on property rights of U.S. persons.
The argument of arms ownership in this country is not new. Current era debates of arms ownership are highly influenced by the trauma of attacks on the innocent. When discussing violent acts we must use the presumption of innocence, for we the people as a common element for both sides of this emotionally charged topic. At the same time, the penalty for the violent criminals must be so harsh and definitive that those who would commit violent crime are permanently unable to repeat their violence.
Depending which study is referenced, violent crime prevention in the United States by the use of firearms ranges from 800,000 up to 2 million times annually -- more than 100 times the number of murders committed with a firearm. This estimate is broad, due to the terms used in law-enforcement reporting.
The origin of attacks on the seemingly innocent is a moral question of what is in the heart of man. When we disconnect ourselves from the origin of moral authority, we choose situational ethics and are able to reconcile any behavior or statement we make; we justify doing bad things.
The discussion of crime control must be an active point of why arms ownership is essential; we must reject the unthoughtful attacks on the innocent, common citizens’ capacity to defend ourselves and threaten tyranny. Access to arms must be unfettered and open to all lawful U.S. persons. The question of mental health is also important, but must be carefully considered as it can be used to falsely classify people and become a tool of oppression.
When a government through artful language restricts an inalienable right, what is that government? Laws passed which violate the Constitution are not lawful. The nullification of that bad law is the responsibility of we the people.
“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” -- Thomas Jefferson
Tim McGowan is a resident of Floresville.
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